The Washington Weekly – January 18, 2013

January 18, 2013

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The Hunger Project’s Executive VP, John Coonrod, is in Washington, DC to strengthen THP’s seat at the table of international development. Each week, John sends us insight into issues of health, policy, human rights and more by way of the Washington Weekly.

Local Democracy Consultations in India and Bangladesh

The past 10 days have been a whirlwind of travel and high-level meetings. I actually spent more time in car traffic as I did flying to South Asia!

THP friend and former board member George Mathew hosted our third major consultation within our UNDEF partnership to cultivate a Global Community of practice for Participatory Local Democracy. It was held in New Delhi on January 9, with support from THP-India and two of our GWU Capstone team members, Luke Fuller and Sam Kendall.

We surrounded this meeting with 15 additional single-agency meetings to maximize our reach.

Both this initiative and THP program work thrusts us directly into the central paradox of participatory local democracy: the bureaucracy sees local leaders as the bottom of a service-delivery totem poll – something which should be closely controlled by the bureaucrats, not an autonomous local democratic body free from control by the central government bureaucracy.

As you can imagine, this is hardening the attitudes of bureaucrats in how they relate to us and we are going need to be enormously skillful in finding ways to have government support wide-spread adoption of our approach.

People’s Voice in the Post-2015 Development Goals

One exciting new development in country-level advocacy in Bangladesh is a new idea hatched by THP-Bangladesh Director, Dr. Majumdar and the head of BRAC, the largest non-profit in the world, to collect reflections by 10,000 villagers across Bangladesh on what they think should be the world’s Post-2015 goals. As the UN High Level Panel must submit its report in March, this will be quick work, but both we and BRAC certainly have the reach to do it.

Make your own voice heard. What is your vision of a post-2015 world? Take the UN survey now!

New Publications: Major Reports on Post-2015 Development Goals

My new favorite blog is www.Post2015.org which tracks various proposals. Two major reports have been issued we should be award of:

  • Save the Children’s suggested ten-goal framework champions universal and equitable development, with human rights as its guiding principle and evidence as a foundation for its approaches.
  • CIGI (a Canadian research institute) The head of BRAC pointed me to this proposal that was released last October reflecting two years of research. It proposed eleven “Bellagio” goals. They go beyond reducing poverty to creating a dignified quality of life.

Action items:

One Billion Rising to Halt Gender-Based Violence

As you know, several THP countries now participate in the 16 Days of Activism to Halt Violence Against Women and take part in impressive leaderless non-violent protests against rape in India and Bangladesh.

In this same spirit, Eve Ensler, author of the Vagina Monologues, has long organized V-Day on Valentines Day (February 14) to focus attention on halting gender-based violence. This year, it has grown into a global movement called One Billion Rising, and both THP-India and THP-Bangladesh are actively participating. I and THP-India staff attended a One Billion Rising event with Eve Ensler last week in New Delhi at which she premiered two powerful new videos.

One Billion Rising refers to the fact that one billion out of three billion women and girls in our world are subject to gender-based violence. Take part in this worldwide movement and join us in ending this violence once and for all.

Spotlighting What Works

The key deliverable in our UNDEF partnership is publication of the State of Participatory Democracy Report in September and YOU have a key role to play! I need you to let me know:

  1. Who are the key players on strengthening local governance in your country that we should interview? We can do it, or you can do it – whichever you choose.
  2. Are there success stories in your country we should highlight and who might be a great author for doing an 800-word writeup on it (for a modest honorarium)? For example, one of the states of Mexico has made a big commitment to training local government, the Indian state of Kerela is very successful in having panchayats raise their own money and create “People’s Plans.” Kenya has just adopted a new constitution with strong devolution provisions.

Upcoming Events

January 28-31: UN High-Level Panel meets Civil Society in Monrovia

February 6-15, 2013: UN Conference on Social Development

February 25-28: UN High-Level Panel meets on Post-2015 governance goals in South Africa

March 3-4 – AU Conference on Ending Hunger in Africa, Addis

March 4-15 – UN Commission on the Status of Women – focus on halting violence against women. THP side event, Tuesday March 12, 10:30am.

April 19-21 – World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington

April 29-May 1 – InterAction Forum, Arlington, Virginia

May 28-30 – Women Deliver Conference, Kuala Lumpur

June 13-14 – Civil20, Business20, Youth20 Summits in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

June 27-28 – International Conference on Population and Development, Paris

September 5-6 – Leaders G20 Summit in Saint Petersburg, Russia

September 24-29 – Opening of the UN General Assembly

October 2 – Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday and the awarding of the Sarojini Naidu Prize.

October 5 – The Hunger Project’s Annual Fall Gala

October 11 – International Girl Child Day

October 16 – World Food Day